We visited the production plant in Livorno, cutting-edge facility where the Azimut Benetti Group builds its mega and giga yachts
by Francesco Michienzi
As our helicopter approaches the Tuscan coast, the outline of the modern units of the Benetti shipyard already stand out perfectly. After a little more than one hour’s flight from Cannes, our pilot peremptorily announces: “We’ve landed in Livorno. Welcome”. Our first impression is one of sheer amazement. The strange sensation that takes you by surprise and makes you ask yourself “do things like this really exist?”
Opposite the yard’s small heliport, stand the majestic industrial works that already house three giga yachts measuring over 100 metres and ready for launching. The first is due to take to the water as we go to press, the second in the spring. Drawing nearer to the hulls under construction you feel like a little ant faced with a huge mountain of steel.
Not an arid metal, but a gem of sophisticated technology developed by enlightened minds and expert hands, which have sweated over it for hundreds of thousands of hours. The engineers who accompany us on our visit talk about the ship as if it were a person, something living, with its own heart and mind. I understand them perfectly. What’s more, looking at a ship taller than a ten-storey building is a truly dumbfounding experience. We are lucky enough to be visiting the world’s first yard for yachts over 24 metres long, with an order book numbering seventy-seven pieces measuring a total of 2840 metres, with an average length of 37 metres.
Building a yacht of these dimensions requires great technical and organisational skill, as well as a level of financial solidity that few other yards on Earth possess. There is room for all the disciplines of modern knowledge in this cross section of the world.
Engineers, architects, carpenters, electricians, machinists, sound technicians, domotics experts, interior designers, woodworkers, plasterers, painters, computer technicians, satellite communication specialists and many more professional figures with an ultra-high level of specialisation in their field. All guided in the construction by motivated project managers, proud to work for a company that will soon be celebrating 150 years since its foundation in 1873, when Lorenzo Benetti (1844-1914) purchased the Cantiere Darsena Lucca in Viareggio and launched more than thirty ships.
Over the last one and a half centuries we have experienced an industrial revolution that has changed our lives radically, improving the most important aspects, but primarily our day-to-day existence. Benetti has evolved over this period, changing its guise and growing from the historical headquarters in Viareggio to incorporate other important facilities, right up to the modern site in Livorno.
Every day, 2200 people work in the Benetti sites, which cover around 300,000 square metres. A small and perfectly coordinated army. Looking at the Gantt chart, displayed on the board at the basis of every ship under construction, the complexity of this work becomes even clearer.
Every operation has to take place at a certain time in order to facilitate each subsequent phase. The chart is a project management support tool, named after the US engineer who specialised in scientific management and developed it in 1917: Henry Laurence Gantt.
Something that has certainly not changed over these 150 years of history is the firm’s innovative spirit and its desire to improve and excel in a complex world. The results speak for themselves.
Over the course of fifteen years in Livorno, it has built forty-five yachts measuring a total of 3200 metres in length. Here at this site alone, it is currently building eleven boats between 48 and more than 100 metres long. A total of more than 300 Benetti vessels sail the seas of the world, with a cumulative length of more than 10,000 metres. There are currently twenty-nine yachts measuring between 24 and 48 metres long under construction at the three sites in Viareggio.
(Benetti Yachts, wonderfactory – Barchemagazine.com Novembre 2018)